By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 3

3.1 - Home...for just a brief moment 3.6 - On Our Knees
3.2 - The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run 3.7 - At T. Henry and C. Williams' Home
3.3 - Meeting the Doctor 3.8 - The Meeting at T. Henry's
3.4 - Back to Cleveland 3.9 - The Message is Brought to Cleveland
3.5 - In the Hospital 3.10 - Cleveland Begins to Come of Age

Chapter 3.6

On Our Knees

What we want to do is get in touch with Him and turn our lives over to Him. Where should we go to do it?

At once the lad replied: "There is only one place - on our knees."

The lad prayed - one of those powerful, simple prayers which are so quickly heard by Him who made the eye and the ear: "OH LORD, MANAGE ME, FOR I CANNOT MANAGE MYSELF."

A. J. Russell, For Sinners Only (New York; Harper & Brothers, 1932), p. 62

It was Valentine's Day in 1938. Clarence was feeling well enough to receive visitors. He had, as he put it, "gotten over a lot of my shakes, gotten them a little under control. I didn't get over `em by a long shot."

He recalled that, beginning with that day, each day, a couple of "the men who preceded me in Akron" came to visit, and each afternoon, Doctor Smith checked in on him. All of these men, about fifteen in number, who came while Clarence was in the hospital, were in their forty's to late fifty's. Clarence was only thirty-five at the time. These men would sit at his bed side, tell him the sad and sordid stories of their lives, and the depths to which alcohol had taken them. They told him of their lives as they were living them that day, and then told him that they had the answer to his problem. They stood up, shook his hand, and wished him well. They all said they would pray for him. At that point, they would turn and leave the room.

This went on for almost a week. Never in Clarence's life did he have this much attention. These were people who genuinely seemed to care for him. They wanted nothing in return, other than his continued success and physical well being.

After these visits, each and every afternoon, he would question Doctor Smith, who kept insisting that he just wanted to be called Doc, about what was going on.

Doc was known to have very long and bony fingers, which - Clarence quipped - "probably served him well in his profession." He would often poke Clarence hard in the chest with them as he spoke to Clarence.

During one of these visits Doc said to Clarence, "Young feller," [Doc had a nick name for everyone, Clarence's happened to be young feller.] "Young feller, you just listen." Doc said nothing further about Clarence's questions until the last day Clarence was to be in the hospital.

It was a Wednesday, and there was a definite chill in the air as Doc sat on the edge of Clarence's bed. Clarence was still a little wary of Doc. Still not sure whether or not he was the Mad Butcher. Doc stood well over six feet tall; and even though he was seated, he still presented an imposing figure.

Doc was known for his very loud neckties and argyle socks. Clarence remembered that he also wore a stick pin which had a lion's head on it. Clarence also remembered that this particular stick pin had a diamond in it. A diamond of which Clarence was envious for it spelled success.

After many minutes of strained silence, Doc finally spoke. "Well young feller, what do you think of all this by now?" Clarence replied, "Well Doc, I think that this is wonderful. All these fellows coming in to see me. They don't know me from a load of hay, and they tell me the story of their lives. They tell me what booze did to them, but I'm puzzled about something." Doc asked, "What are you puzzled about?" Clarence replied, "Every one of these men tells me the same thing. They tell me that they have the answer to my drinking problem; and on that note, they leave. They don't tell me anything. Now, I'm laying around here for about a week, I'm ready to get out of here. What are you going to do to me? What's next? What's the answer? What are these fellows holding from me? What is this?"

He was not at all ready for the reply that Doc gave him. Doc looked at Clarence seriously, pondering his next few words. He folded his massive arms in his lap and said, "Well young feller, we don't know about you. You're pretty young, and we haven't had any luck with these young fellows. They're all screwballs."

Clarence was not about to comment that he wasn't a screwball. All of the men who had spoken to him were much older. All seemed pretty responsible and sane. He looked at Doc imploringly and said, "What do I have to do to be ready? I weigh one hundred and thirty pounds, I've been on the bum for several years, and I'm unemployable. I have no more home than a rabbit, I have no clothes, I have no money, and I have no prospects. I have nothing. It's the middle of winter, and I'm in a strange town and you people say that I'm not ready yet? What more do I have to go through? How many more years of living hell?"

Doc looked at Clarence and shook his head up and down. "Okay young feller," he said, "I'll give you the answer to this." Doc turned his body on the bed to get closer to Clarence, pointed a long bony finger at him, and asked, "Young feller, do you believe in God? Not a God, but God!"

Clarence was ready for a medical cure. He was ready for surgery, any kind of surgery. Even rectal. After all, he was in a hospital, wasn't he? He was ready to sign a pledge, swear off booze, sing for his supper, and stand on his head if need be. He was, however, definitely not ready for God!

He had already been to the missions when he needed clothing or shelter. He even sang a little bit. He had listened to all they had to say about God. He had "agreed" with them and they gave him what he had needed. How many times had he turned his life over to Jesus Christ for just a pair of pants, on old and worn overcoat, a pair of shoes? Most of these items he had sold for alcohol anyway. He sold them when the need arose, as it always did.

Doc repeated himself. Louder this time and with a trace of annoyance: "Do you believe in God?" Clarence tried as hard as he could to evade this question, but one did not evade Doc. Especially when Doc believed in something this strongly. Clarence asked, "Well, what does that have to do with it?" Doc answered, "Young feller, this has everything to do with it. Do you or do you not believe in God?"

By this time, Doc appeared to Clarence to be getting ready to get up off of the bed and leave the room. Clarence was afraid that Doc wouldn't "fix" him unless he went along with this line of questioning. Yet there were still the vestiges of resistance. Clarence tried to evade the question once more. He tried to answer on a more positive, but non-committal note. He said, "Well, I guess I do."

Doc abruptly stood up, pointed his finger at Clarence, and yelled. "There's no guessing about it. Either you do or you don't!" Clarence became increasingly frightened. He thought that Doc was about to walk out and never tell him the answer to his problem. The answer that Doc had already given to him, but which Clarence was unable or unwilling to hear.

"Yeah," Clarence replied, resigned to the fact that he really wanted to get well and that Doc wouldn't help him unless he responded in the affirmative. "I do believe in God," he said.

Doc didn't sit right back down as Clarence had expected him to do. Instead he just stood there and stared at him. This time he really was frightened. This time Clarence thought that he had "blown my opportunity," as he put it, to rid himself of his drinking problem; and he began to think that he was relegated to a life of misery and despair.

Both the fear and the desire must have shown all over his face because Doc eventually said, "That's fine. Now we can get someplace." Clarence breathed a sigh of relief. Once again, however, he was not at all prepared for what was to happen next.

Doc said, "Get down out of that bed." Clarence was shocked. He asked, "For what?" Doc replied, "You're gonna pray." Clarence pleaded with him, for enough was enough, "I don't know anything about praying," Clarence said. Doc, still as stern as before and not willing to compromise his beliefs, said, "I don't suppose that you do; but you get down there, and I will pray. You can repeat it after me, and that will do for this time."

Doc then took Clarence by the hand and "hauled" him off of that "nice warm nest," as Clarence put it, and down to the cold, hard, concrete floor. Clarence, in his shorty hospital nightshirt, tied together in the back by a couple of strings. Doc, in a suit with a loud colored tie, argyle socks and a diamond stick pin with a lion's head.

What a sight to behold. Both men, on their knees, by the side of the hospital bed, in an attitude of prayer. Doc uttered some sort of a prayer, pausing every few words so that Clarence had the time to repeat them. Clarence didn't quite remember the words of the prayer exactly; but he did remember its being something like this: "Jesus! This is Clarence Snyder. He's a drunk. Clarence! This is Jesus. Ask Him to come into your life. Ask Him to remove your drinking problem, and pray that He manage your life because you are unable to manage it yourself."

After they had concluded this simple prayer, they rose from the side of the bed. Doc shook Clarence's hand and said to him, "Young feller, you're gonna be all right."

Clarence sat back down on the side of the bed. He was sweating profusely. But he was feeling something strange. Something he had probably never felt before in his entire life. He felt absolutely clean.

He also felt relieved of a great burden that had weighed heavily upon him for what had seemed, forever. He had just prayed that prayer, not like he had done so many times in the past. Not like he had prayed in Sunday School, in churches and in the missions. He had prayed this particular prayer like he really meant it - meant every word that had come out of his mouth. He prayed the prayer directly from the center of his heart and not from a brain befogged from alcohol. He had prayed that way because he had felt his very life had depended upon each and every word that came out of his mouth.

In all actuality - it did!

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